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A friend recommended these to me last week, and they strike me as a great idea: It’s like they took the little pair of tweezers you have in your medicine cabinet, scaled ’em up about 1000%, then added a little LED light at the back end so you can almost always see what you’re trying to grab.

They’re just under 7″ long (which you can kind of see if you look carefully at the package picture above and assume that the guy in the tiny photo has relatively normal-sized hands), they’re made of spring steel, and the grip at the back end is made of over-molded rubbery plastic. A couple of standard LR41 watch batteries power the LED light.

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Take Skil’s cheap little iXO 4V lithium-ion driver, cut the pistol grip off it, and glue it to the front of a standard tubular flashlight, and you’ve got Skil’s #2350-01 “2-in-1 cordless screwdriver and flashlight.” Yes, it looks a little funny. But I won’t get bitten the same way I did when I expressed my disinterest in Black & Decker’s iXO-like driver a while back. See, I thought “Who would want a pistol-grip cordless screwdriver with an integrated battery and no variable speed?” Answer: Sean’s wife, who back then spent a lot of time opening and closing ATMs which have (wait for it) — about a million machine screws in them. She loved the idea of a sub-$40 driver that fit the bill fine for that simple task. Assuming the 2350 removes screws similarly well, I’m betting the flashlight would’ve come in handy for her.

That said, the 2350 checks in at a little more than $40 — more like $50 to $60 based on a current Google search. Still, I can see some use cases for this. Just don’t imagine that it’ll have anywhere near the widespread application you’d get from something like a Bosch PS20 or other-branded equivalents.

Update: It’s $37 at Amazon right now.

2-in-1 Cordless Screwdriver and Flashlight [Skil]
Street Pricing [Google]
Via Amazon [What’s This?]


What is it that draws you to one screwdriver over another? Is it the grip? Strength and durability of the tip? Price? I asked myself these questions this morning, and damn if I could come up with a simple answer. Read on for my take (such that it is), and please be ready to share yours. I’m interested, and I know for a fact a number of manufacturers would love to know what you think as well.

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I ran across this online today, and it just screams “impulse-buy item” — you know, stuffed in a display box right by the checkout counter. It’s also pretty much everything a hammer shouldn’t be. The whole point of a hammer is to apply additional force with a lever. Make the lever shorter and you sorta defeat the purpose. Of course, you can probably stick this one in your pocket. “Is that a hammer, or are you just happy to see me?”

Kidding aside, what use case does this satisfy? (No, really. This wouldn’t be the first time I missed one that’s obvious to everyone else.) I suppose you could use it to hang pictures, but I’d rather have a nice light full-sized hammer for that. It’d offer a lot more control. The mini hammer has a full-sized claw, though I’m not really sure how much force you could apply to it considering the stubby handle. It’s got to be wicked unbalanced, too.

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The idea of an indexing box-end — complete with GearWrench’s well-known fine-toothed ratcheting system — makes a lot of sense. Believe me, there’s nothing more frustrating than trying to get at a damn bolt or nut that’s just a little bit off from any angle you can possibly reach with a straight wrench. (Pick yourself up a set of deep offsets, too.) But hey, GearWrench’s double box-ends go to 11, man. Both ends index.

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So you’ve tried everything you can think of and the damn nut is still frozen in place. Your next step: break the damn thing. Of course, it’d help if you could do so without jacking up the threads of whatever the hell it’s screwed to. That’s where nut splitters come in handy. You place ’em over the nut, then crank down slowly on the screw, applying mechanical advantage to drive an angled point into the nut, hopefully breaking it in half without mangling things up too bad.

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I really hated being wrong about the Milwaukee fastback folding utility blade. I thought it would be one of the also-rans that always crop up around Christmas as a “Free Gift” in discounted toolkits. Leave it to Milwaukee to follow through with their threat to put muscle behind their hand tool development and make me feel like a jackwagon.

The fastback has proven to be a hardworking addition to the shop, office, automotive garage, and home area. Mention of its name is followed by a reach into my sidepocket instead of a run to the toolbox. It’s a subtle but distinct difference that speaks more to how comfortable it is to carry and use than tales of its battle prowess ever could be.

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I’m sure a lot of Toolmongers already know what this is and what it’s for. But a friend who found one of these in a toolbox he bought asked me what it was, so I thought I’d share here as well, just in case. I’ve always heard it called the “try square,” which my father told me was due to the fact that “trying” is kind of a work-slang for checking something to see if it’s straight. But it seems others call it a “tri-square” as well.

A quick run to Wikipedia suggests that this might “refer to the three purposes of this tool: 1. To check squareness, 2. To check flatness, and 3. to lay out lines.” Ok — that’s certainly what I do with it, but it never occurred to me to call it a “tri” square. Can any of you old-timers (or high-timers, either way) confirm this?

The one linked (and pictured) above is from Irwin and looks pretty nice, featuring a hardwood handle. Super nice ones will often feature brass rivets or rare woods, though all it really needs to do is be straight to do its job. Mine sees a lot of use marking steel for cuts in the shop as it’s easy to slap it on a piece of tubing and draw a nice, straight 90-degree line. I use the ruler markings to mark tubing cuts for closures, too.

So what do you do with yours?

Hardwood Tri-Squares [Irwin]


My daughter is just under two years old now, and has already figured out how to work a flashlight, digital camera, and, much to daddy’s dismay, a screwdriver. Therefore, every time I wander past these kids’ tools, my other half seems to think they’re just what we need. After a lot of thought on the matter and watching my daughter use different objects, I can’t help thinking that TM readers were correct — that she is more than capable of dealing with real hand tools when she gets older rather than gimmicky stuff now.

This little kit from Red Toolbox runs $10 and looks pretty solid. However, if you think about it, other than the hammer there’s nothing here that’s any different from the stuff I have in the shop. I’ve already got stuff she can have that A) wouldn’t cost anything to give her, and B) is the real deal.

This, combined with the fact that a child should never be left alone with tools in the first place, means you’re going to be involved in whatever they are doing anyway, so why not arm them with tools and skills they can build upon later?

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Milwaukee continues its hand tool releases with the pliers you see above, which they call “6-in-1 combination and long nose pliers.” That’s a mouthful of words, yeah? According to the press release, Milwaukee says these will replace three separate tools: a metal de-burring tool, a wire stripper, and needle nose pliers — a combination of tools familiar to anyone doing electrical work.

So let’s see if we can identify all those components. The needle nose pliers are pretty clear, and they look pretty sturdy with lots of detail machining. The wire strippers are embedded into the pliers’ jaws, and you’ll get slightly different capabilities in each of Milwaukee’s two models: the “combination” pliers (pictured, I think) handle 10-18 gauge solid and 12-20 gauge stranded wire with #6-32 and #8-32 bolt cutters. The “long nose pliers” model handles 10-14 gauge solid and 12-16 gauge stranded.

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